They Jump on Anything That Moves, Part 2: The Arrest of Dmitry Trubitsyn

Alyona Rydannykh
Facebook
June 9, 2017

The Trial and the 1990s have arrived in Akademgorodok. It’s awful and dishonest and scary. All of Akademgorodok, including the polite employees at the courthouse, are on the side of common sense and Dima’s side. Everyone knows everyone else in our town, and if people in a place like that say someone has a perfect reputation, they really mean perfect.

How awful.

Image may contain: 1 person
Dmitry Trubitsyn

Mikhail Amelkin
Facebook
June 9, 2017

The police searched Tion yesterday. They detained Dima Trubitsyn, the company’s founder and inspiration.

This is a continuation of the hullabaloo over registering medical equipment. All the recommendations were implemented, but now the case has shifted to different plane, and Dima is personally at risk.

I’ve known Dima since school. He’s a fine honest man with a crystal clean reputation. He has done a lot not only for the company’s employees but also for education, for schoolchildren and university students, for the consumers of our products, and for the economy as a whole.  He has always said he would prove it was possible and necessary to run a successful tech company in Russia, to support the country and the economy with actions, not words. He has never been involved in politics, believing one shouldn’t whinge and complain, but get up and do it.

I realize the law enforcement agencies play the game by their own rules. Professional lawyers are now working on the defense. I would be flummoxed if Dima were remanded into police custody during the investigation. From my point of view, that would be overdoing it. Dima is not a villain: I believe that with all my heart. Jail is too severe a measure of restraint for such an honest man, a man willing to prove his case with his visor open and standing up straight.

How can you help? By reposting this message and voicing your support for Dima in the comments to the repost. Tell us about Dima as you know him. Show that you care, that you are concerned about the situation and are keeping an eye on it.

What WON’T help is screaming, chewing out the authorities, and guessing and surmising why what happened has happened. I would ask you not to do this out of respect for Dima, who never engaged in such jawboning himself.

What is it stake is not the company, but a specific man’s life, a man who has not wronged anyone. I just ask you to support him on the personal level. He’s a good man. He’s never lived for himself, and, even as he has been locked up in the pretrial detention facility, he has been planning to make the world a better place.

Tion Smart Microclimate
Faceboook
June 9, 2017

We wish to inform you that on June 8, Tion’s offices in Novosibirsk, Berdsk, and Moscow were searched by law enforcement in connection with a case involving the sale of medical products that, allegedly, do not meet safety requirements.

Tion works in strict compliance with the laws of the Russian Federation. We regard the present circumstances as unjustified pressure on a transparent, law-abiding company, since all the equipment we sell has the necessary permits.

The current grievances are rooted in the past, when there were inaccuracies in registration certificates due to imperfections in legislation. The inaccuracies were corrected on a routine basis and in close cooperation with the relevant government agencies. The selectivity of the investigative bodies raises obvious suspicions that this is a deliberate campaign against a market leader.

The decision to take the company’s director general into police custody is unjustified and aimed at hindering the company’s work. Such actions were typical in the 1990s.

Nevertheless, it is business as usual at Tion. We have been fulfilling our obligations to our employees, contractors, and clients. The company’s non-medical businesses have not be affected.

We will defend our position in accordance with established procedure and are confident of success.

Ilya Beterov

Facebook
June 10, 2017

Briefly about Dima for those who don’t know about him and the whole situation. We studied at university together. Then he went into business, and I stayed in science and became a lecturer. Our paths almost never crossed for several years. Then I started taking my students to see his company, to show them a beautiful, modern production facility, built from scratch by an ordinary man. Basically, it was a paradigm of success in the innovative economy, which was all the rage back then. The atmosphere of enthusiasm, youth, and dynamism was also impressive. Later, more and more new educational projects sprang up around Dima, and the company built its own lab for researching aerosols, expanded its ties with the physics department, and established a foundation for supporting students at physics and maths magnet schools. Accordingly, Dima has a rare reputation in our day and age, and because of it I am taking his side without knowing all the particulars of the present case. He and I diverged in terms of political views. I believed that doing business in Russia without protection from the criminal world or the authorities was madness, but Dima was an optimist. Actually, this optimism has two sides. On the one hand, a production facility like that would have been impossible without it. On the other hand, I can easily imagine the carelessness with paperwork that is common in Russia did not bypass the company and served as the peg on which to hang the present case. At the same time, I’m confident Dima was never involved in falsifying descriptions of equipment. Despite my thoroughgoing skepticism, I didn’t anticipate he would be the first of us to come under attack. I learned about the attack against him a year ago, and I believe it is coming from fairly serious criminal and oligarchic organizations. The name and surname of the person who ordered the attack can be easily found. But then a simple question arises. Maybe we should stop hypocritically arguing that Russia needs a competitive economy, technological clusters, innovation, financing from the business world, and other nonsense? There are people with influence. If the production of something has to be set up, give them the assignment, and they will hire specialists and get the job done. But the chatter about innovation and competitiveness has to be stopped once and for all.

Novosibirsk Entrepreneur Detained over Bacteria
RBC
June 9, 2017

The head of one of the oldest residents of Akademgorodok Technopark, Aeroservis LLC’s Dmitry Trubitsyn, has been detained by investigating authorities over charges he sold defective air purifiers.

According to police investigators, Aeroservis (Tion Group of Companies) received permission in 2011 to manufacture the TION-A and TION-V air purifiers, which eliminate bacteria and viruses.

Later, investigators claim that Trubitsyn “had the idea of producing and selling the air purifiers in violation of established standards in order to reduce production costs and maximize profits from their sale.”

They allege that the suspect built and sold air purifiers lacking the necessary components for air purification.

“As a result, during the specified period, the rigged equipment was delivered to clinics in over one hundred cities and towns in Russia. Yet the proceeds from the sale of each air purifier ranged from 45,000 to 98,000 rubles,” the investigators write in their statement to the press.

Tion has said it regards the situation as “unjustified pressure on a transparent, law-abiding company, since all the equipment we sell has the necessary permits.”

According to the company, the charges made by the investigative authorities have to do with the past, “when there were inaccuracies in registration certificates due to imperfections in legislation.”

They say the inaccuracies were corrected when they were brought to light, but “the selectivity of the investigative bodies raises obvious suspicions this is a deliberate campaign against a market leader.”

“The decision to take the company’s director general into police custody is unjustified and aimed at hindering the company’s work. Such actions were typical in the 1990s.”

The company likewise said it was conducting business as usual.

Charges have been filed under Article 238.1, Part 2, Paragraph a, of the Russian Federal Criminal Code: the production and sale of unregistered medical devices on a large scale. The crime is punishable by a prison sentence of five to eight years and a fine of one million to three million rubles.

Dmitry Trubitsyn, a 35-year-old Novosibirsk entrepreneur, founded the Tion Group of Companies.

Founded in Novosibirsk, Tion designs, produces, and sells modern air purifiers. Production takes place at the Berdsk Electromechanical Plant and in China, while design is done at the Akademgorodok Technopark.

Alexei Okunev
Facebook
June 9, 2017

The company that custom-ordered the criminal investigation, Potok (“Stream) does not use “UV, ozone, HEPA filters, and photocatalysis” in its air purifiers. They don’t even use “chemical substances.” This is called “space-age technology” and will be delivered to hospitals and maternity hospitals.

Oksana Trubitsyna
Facebook
June 11, 2017

Friends, thank you so much for your support.

The criminal case against Dmitry Trubitsyn and the police searches at the company are unprecedented coercion against a successful, law-abiding business.

Unfortunately, it is not only we who are under attack but also the very possibility of establishing successful tech companies in Russia. This cannot be tolerated.

Tion is a transparent company. Tion’s equipment is effective and safe. Dmitry Trubitsyn has not broken the law.

We will prove it in court.

We are not entirely certain of the reasons for what has been happening to us. We assume the law enforcement agencies are being used as a tool by competitors. Alas, market competition in Russia can assume such ugly shapes.

What is happening now with Tion?
– Dmitry Trubitsyn and his lawyers are deciding what steps to take next to defend themselves.
– We have appealed to the ombudsman for the defense of entrepreneurs’ rights.
– Tion’s management seeks to ensure the company’s smooth operation. After the weekend, everyone will come to work and keep working on projects.
– Tion has been closely interacting with the media. We are preparing answers to the flood of negativity that has washed over us and defending our reputation.

What can you do?
– Pass all your ideas, thoughts, and useful contacts on to the Tion employees you know. We will review everything and contact you if necessary.
– Write a letter to the President of the Russian Federation via the official website letters.kremlin.ru. Unlike the well-known website Change.org, the Kremlin is required by law to reply to your letters. A large number of letters could raise the issue to the very highest level.

What can do harm to the cause?
– Uncoordinated communication with the media and, especially, with television can misshape perceptions of the situation badly. It will be harder and harder for us to fight back.
– Involving various politicians and public figures. The situation facing Tion is a matter of (harsh and unacceptable) relations within the market. Interacting with political forces automatically strips us of part of our support and forces us to deal with irrelevant issues. It will complicate our lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the accusations against Tion?

Law enforcement is attempting to accuse us of manufacturing low-quality medical equipment by citing the outcomes of a study allegedly done by one of Rosdravnadzor’s expert review centers. [Rozdravnadzor is the Russian Federal Service for the Oversight of Public Health and Social Development—TRR.] The substantive part of the expert review is lacking: technical tests were not conducted by any experts.

Special attention should be paid to the fact we were able to receive the findings of the “expert review” only two months after our competitors had been using them with a vengeance.

Is it true that Tion’s products are dangerous to your health?

Our products are safe, as confirmed by dozens of independent examinations. Many of these examinations can be be easily accessed on our official website.

Why, then, have investigators concluded your equipment is dangerous?

Conclusions on the danger of using the equipment are based on a mismatch between the mass of the air purifier, as indicated in the instruction manual, and the mass, as indicated in the registration file.

The accusation is without substance. It is bureaucratic and very far from the truth.

Is it true that Tion’s products were initially equipped with photocatalytic filters, but at some point the company stopped using them?

Yes, it is true. Photocatalytic filters facilitate the removal of molecular pollutants (i.e., those in a gaseous state, unlike dust and microorganisms). In Tion’s products, this function is still performed by a catalytic adsorption filter, which handles molecular pollutants just as well as photocatalytic filters.

Is it true that Tion got rid of the photocatalytic filter covertly?

No, it’s not true. Tion’s website describes its air purification technology in detail. It doesn’t involve photocatalysis.

Police investigators claim that, after the photocatalytic filters were removed, Tion’s products ceased to eliminate viruses and bacteria. Is this true?

No, it’s not true. Viruses and bacteria are eliminated by HEPA filtration. Moreover, the captured microorganisms are additionally deactivated by ozone, which is subsequently destroyed by the catalytic adsorption filter.

Tion’s photocatalytic filter-less products passed all the necessary certifications and were registered for medical use. Roszdravnadzor had no complaints.

Moreover, certain competitors never used photocatalysis in their equipment, which in no way kept them from obtaining permits.

Is it true that Tion specifically removed the photocatalytic filter in order to save money and increase its profits?

Yes, it’s true, and it’s a good thing. Only perverted logic can lead one to the conclusions which police investigators have reached.

Photocatalytic filters are not obligatory for effective purification. Tion’s design makes it possible to achieve the necessary level of decontamination without resorting to photocatalysis, which has been proven by multiple independent studies.

Business should make a profit. Reducing costs is an absolutely legal and reasonable means of increasing profits. Introducing new, more effective, and cheaper technologies is one way to reduce costs without reducing the quality of products. Designing, popularizing, and making new, more efficient technologies cheaper is the Tion way.

Tion’s profits are spent on designing new products and on charity and social projects that you all know about. This is not to mention the fact we pay taxes and salaries.

Is it true that Tion founder Dmitry Trubitsyn made a front man director instead of him?

No, it is not true. As the company grew and new investors came on board, its structure became more complicated. At the moment of his arrest, Dmitry Trubitsyn was the director general of Tion Holding Company JSC, to which the other legal entities in the Tion Group of Companies belong as subsidiaries, for example, Aeroservis LLC, which is the subject of the criminal investigation.

_____________________________

A huge thanks to Alyonna Rydannykh for the heads-up and supplying me with all the Facebook posts and articles used in this collage reportage. Translated by the Russian Reader. This is latest in an occasional series of posts on the regime’s apparent hostility toward medium and small businesses and traders. You can read the previous post in the series here. TRR

The Enemy Within Is Everywhere

The Russian National Guard Has Been Crushing the General Staff
Alexander Goltz, Military Observer
The New Times
June 5, 2017

A calling card of a militaristic society is the tendency of the authorities to respond to all challenges by means of force, military or otherwise. The Kremlin’s fear of so-called color revolutions has materialized into a buildup of the resources available to the recently minted Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya), which was designed to quell unrest. Unprecedented powers have now been added to its resources. 

 «Чтобы все было в ажуре». Экспонаты организованной Росгвардией выставки, которая посвящена технологиям правохранительных органов, Красноармейск, Московская область, 25 мая 2017 года. Фото: Антон Луканин/ТАСС“So that everything is just so” (Chtoby vsyo bylo v azhure). Exhibits at a trade show, organized by the Russian National Guard, dealing with law enforcement equipment. Krasnomarmeysk, Moscow Region, May 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Anton Lukanin/TASS

In the last part of May, when the public was distracted by the police raids on the Gogol Center and director Kirill Serebrennikov, almost no one noticed a new decree, issued by President Putin, which approved the “Regulations on the Tactical and Geographical Organization of the Forces of the Russian Federal National Guard.” At first glance, it is a run-of-the-mill and extraordinarily boring bureaucratic document. But that it is only at first glance. In fact, only a few lines in the decree point to a genuine revolution in the organization of Russia’s military.

“By decision of the President of the Russian Federation,” reads the document, “the units and divisions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as other military formations and bodies, can be transferred to the tactical subordination of the district commander to perform tasks assigned to National Guard troops.”

A New Kind of War

In both Soviet and post-Soviet times, the possibility was envisaged that the Internal Troops of the Interior Ministry, on whose basis the Russian National Guard was established in 2016, could be subordinated to the Armed Forces. After all, an external foe could have gained the upper hand over the army, and to repel it, it would have been necessary to concentrate all the country’s military forces into a single fist. Units from the Internal Troops have been involved in all major military exercises in recent years under the command of the army. But it has never been suggested that army units would be subordinated to the command of the Internal Troops.

There were no hints in last year’s law, which instituted the Russian National Guard, that army units could be subordinated to Guard commanders, for such subordination could mean only one thing: the Kremlin regards domestic threats as much more dangerous than foreign threats. These domestic threats are so serious that, at some point, the Russian National Guard might lack the strength to repel them, although, according to its commander-in-chief, Viktor Zolotov, its troop strength has doubled in comparison with the Internal Troops (which had 187,000 men in its ranks before their reassignment), i.e., the Russian National Guard has close to 400,000 soldiers. The president’s decree means the authorities concede the possibility of large-scale unrest that would affect the entire country. Under such circumstances, all reserves would be deployed, and the army would be engaged in performing their notorious “internal function,” something the military has avoided like the plague both in Soviet and post-Soviet times.

In 2014, however, at a conference organized by the Defense Ministry, the generals, wishing to oblige the Kremlin, came to the stunning conclusion that so-called color revolutions were a new form of military action. Thus, in the new edition of The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, published in December 2014, we read that modern military conflicts are characterized by the “integrated use of military force and non-military political, economic, informational and other measures, implemented with extensive use of the populace’s protest potential and special tactical forces.” As we see, the “populace’s protest potential” is equated with the actions of enemy saboteurs.

Loyalty Counts

At this point, seemingly, it was incumbent that something be done. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has on several occasions ordered several military institutions (including the Academy of the General Staff, for example) to carry out research on how the Armed Forces should react to such threats, but the outcomes of this research are still unknown. Likely as not, the officers corps did not wish to dirty its hands by planning how to deploy troops against its own people. All they could force themselves to do was come up with the idea of subordinating the army to the Russian National Guard, thus shifting responsibility to it for using force on the streets of Russia’s cities. Yet the commanders of the army units assigned to the Russian National Guard will themselves have to decide, when push comes to shove, whose orders to carry out and how to carry them out.

Last summer, units of the Russian National Guard and the Airborne Forces engaged in joint exercises in Volgograd Region. Servicemen from two brigades of the Russian National Guard and the Special Ops Centers, as well the Fifty-Sixth Airborne Assault Brigade of the Airborne Forces were involved in the exercises: a total of four thousand men. However, a member of the Defense Ministry, Lieutenant General Andrei Kholzakov, Deputy Commander of the Airborne Forces, was in charge of the maneuvers. The general explained then that the exercises were the first to take place “after the reformation of the Internal Troops. We have been working out issues of interaction to understand how to cooperate in the future.” The reason why, during the initial stages, army generals were tapped to command the exercises is obvious. Their colleagues in the Russian National Guard did not have the know-how and experience to plan large-scale operations. But now, the president’s decree would have us think, the Kremlin favors loyalty over knowledge and ability, and it has subordinated the army to the police. By hook or by crook, the army is being prepared to put down its own people.

Russian National Guard Units in Russia (Districts and Cities Where Units Are Deployed. Source: www.rosgvard.ru

Super Law Enforcement Authority

The authorities, however, have not been hiding what jobs, the most important, as they imagine, the Russian National Guard will have to take on for the state. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin quite seriously dubbed it the “most belligerent military unity solving problems inside the country.” Even so, he underscored that the “Russian National Guard must be armed to the teeth, and not just to the teeth, but with the highest-quality weapons.”

True, the Guard itself is steadily becoming a super law enforcement body, a secret service backed up by thousands of troops. Relatively recently, for example, it transpired that the Guard was establishing a service for monitoring social networks on the internet.

“We see today the areas where we would like to develop. IT is in first place. […] The Russian National Guard plans to train IT specialists and specialists for monitoring social networks,” said Colonel General Sergei Melikov, deputy commander of the Russian National Guard.

According to Melikov, “such training groups” were already functioning at the Perm Military Institute.

Военнослужащие Росгвардии во время курса боевой подготовки, Московская область, февраль 2017 года. Фото: Дмитрий Коротаев/Коммерсантъ Russian National Guardsmen during combat training. Moscow Region, February 2017. Photo courtesy of Dmitry Korotayev/Kommersant

General Melikov claimed the new unit would tasked only with tracking terrorists and preventing their attacks. But it is more likely the cyber-guardsmen will identify groups of “rebels,” including people planning to take part in protest rallies.

In the meantime, the media has reported on the Russian National Guard’s intentions to obtain permission to perform investigative work, thus establishing their own version of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department (MUR). So far, high-ranking officials in the Guard have decisively denied this. However, General Melikov revealed that the Russian National Guard would train the appropriate specialists if the authorities decided to give them these powers.

Finally, the top brass has consistently been involved in guiding the National Guardsmen ideologically. It would seem their ideal is the NKVD, for the authorities have not limited themselves to naming an tactical division of the Guard after Iron Felix. So, in the very near future, Dzerzhinsky’s name will be resurrected, incorporated as part of the name of the Guard’s Saratov Institute. The Guard’s units and divisions are supposed to be given the insignias and honorary titles of glorious predecessors. Uniformed historians have been tasked with finding something heroic about the NKVD’s troops. It is curious what they will write about the involvement of these “glorious warriors” in wholesale deportations and whether they will use these “heroic examples” to educate the Guardsmen.

The Potential Enemy 

For the time being, the Russian National Guard’s commanders insist that its main objective is confronting terrorists and armed gangs, underplaying its role in dispersing civilians. But the same day the president’s decree was published, May 20, an article with the byline of Yuri Baluyevsky was published in the Independent Military Observer. In the recent past, Baluyevsky had been chief of the Armed Forces General Staff; he was later deputy secretary of the Security Council, and is now an adviser to the Russian National Guard’s commander-in-chief. His article is notable for its frankness.

“As a military man,” writes Baluyevsky, “I compare our country to a target. The center is the leadership and political elite. The second circle is the economy, the third, infrastructure, the fourth, the populace, and the fifth, the Armed Forces. Currently, it is not the Armed Forces who are being attacked, but the civilian population, since, compared with the military, it is the segment of society most vulnerable to the forces and methods of psychological warfare. The scenario for how events unfold is known from the color revolutions. The organizers get millions of people shouting ‘Down with the government!’ to take to the streets. The authorities start to lose control. Next come sanctions and an integrated attack on the country’s economy. The armed forces don’t know what to do. All of this leads the country to collapse. This is how a modern war could unfold.  The emergence of the National Guard is a response to the challenge to our society, to the threat posed by the use of so-called nonviolent resistance, which it would be more accurate to call a ‘color revolution.'”

Thus, society’s allegedly least responsible segment, the civilian population of one’s own country, has been transformed into a potential enemy against whom the Russian National Guard and the army will be allowed to use force. They will be allowed to use military force against their own people.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade AKH for the heads-up

Maria Eismont: The Dmitriev Case Is the Most Important Thing Happening in Russia Right Now

1482844382
Yuri Dmitriev. Photo courtesy of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

The Yuri Dmitriev Case
The Accused Should Be Nominated for a State Prize
Maria Eismont
Vedomosti
June 8, 2017

“A person cannot disappear without a trace. People differ from butterflies in the sense that people have memory,” the man with long grey hair and long grey beard said onscreen.

The presentation of books of remembrance for those shot during the Great Terror in Karelia packed the screening room at the Gulag History Museum in Moscow: people even sat on the stairways. The editor of the books, Karelian historian and search specialist Yuri Dmitriev, from Memorial, was the man talking onscreen. He has spent the last six months in a pretrial detention center, absurdly charged with the crime of producing pornography.

Dmitriev sent his greetings and gratitude from prison, not so much for the kind words said about him, as for acknowledgement of his life’s work. Memorial’s historians all concur it is unique. No other region in Russia has such a complete compendium of the names of those who were shot as Karelia does. As his colleagues argue, Dmitriev succeeded in turning the figures of those who perished during the Great Terror into memorial lists complete with names, biographies, and burial sites.

The speakers occasionally slipped into the past tense, but immediately corrected themselves. Dmitriev is still alive, and we must believe he will soon be released, find the execution site of the other two Solovki “quotas” [political prisoners at the Solovki concentration camp who were transported to three different sites outside the camp in 1937–1938 to be shot and buried in secret—TRR], and present the next book of remembrance. This powerlessness, these slips of the tongue, and the trembling voices fully convey the horror of a time when the days when people were shot are long past but people still fall victim to political repression.

The Yuri Dmitriev case is, perhaps, the most important thing happening in Russia right now, first of all, because a patriot who for decades had, bit by bit, resurrected thousands of names of this country’s citizens from official oblivion, citizens murdered cruelly and senselessly in the state’s name, has himself been subjected to persecution. “The introduction to the list of terror victims will be brief: may they live in our memories forever,” writes Dmitriev in the foreword to one of his compendiums, The Motherland Remembers Them, a book in which the names are listed not in alphabetical order, but under the names of the villages where the victims lived before their arrests. “The moral of the story is also brief: remember! As is my advice: take care of each other.” Now there is a Russian national idea for you. The author of these books of remembrance should be nominated for a state prize and a government grant to keep on with his work.

There is another important thing about the Dmitriev case: the charge his persecutors chose for him. He was not charged with “extremism” or “separatism,” which have been commonplace in politically motivated cases, but with child pornography and depraved actions towards a minor. The charges not only guarantee a long sentence and promise the accused problems in prison but also challenge the public to support him. “What if something really did happen?” Dmitriev’s friends and relatives acknowledge that while those who doubt Dmitriev or are willing to countenance the charges are an overwhelming minority, such people do exist, and some of them are “decent” people.

The number of “pedophilia” cases, based on controversial, contradictory, clearly flimsy evidence and flagrantly unprofessional forensic examinations, has been growing for several years. Recently, I attended a similar event in Naro-Fominsk, seventy kilometers southwest of Moscow. It was also a memorial evening for a living person who had been incarcerated on charges of depravity against a child, actions the man could not have committed, according to witnesses who were nearby when the crime was alleged to have occurred. Dozens of people had come to remember what a good male nurse Zhenya had been. Then they corrected themselves: not had been, but is and will continue to be. Then they cried.

“Pedophilia” cases have long been custom-ordered to rid oneself of rivals and used to pad police conviction statistics, but now they have been put to use in political cases.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for the heads-up

Zinaida Pozdnyakova: Tallinn, Estonia (1964)

Zinaida Pozdnyakova is irreplaceable. While the rest of us were staring at the wall or just not existing (as in my case), Ms. Pozdynakova was exploring the nooks and crannies of Soviet Tallinn in 1964 and, as always, getting it so right you want to hop a train, plane or ferry and go there right now.

Except that city no longer exists, which is one of the reasons why great art and genuine artists are so invaluable to our life together here. TRR

____________________

poz-tal-1

poz-tal-2

poz-tal-3

Continue reading “Zinaida Pozdnyakova: Tallinn, Estonia (1964)”

Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

Lyubov Moseyeva-Helier
A Korean Adventure in Kaluga
7X7
April 28, 2017

Whew!

Now, after a ten-hour marathon, I can sum up the results.

My son, a member of Kaluga Prisons Public Monitoring Commission No. 3, found a North Korean national in Correctional Colony No. 5 in Sukhinichi in late March 2017.

My son tried to speak with Kim in Russian and English, but Kim understood neither. According to the assistant director of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s Kaluga office, who was present during the meeting, Kim “only shook his head like a Chinese bobblehead.”

The North Korean is the first such inmate who, after he is returned to his country of origin, faces life in a work camp or the death penalty.

In North Korea, inmates are rehabilitated through starvation. They are given one cup of rice daily.

First, I consulted with human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina. She replied that, in her opinion, Kim faced threats to his life and health in North Korea.

Then I contacted the UNHCR. I informed them that Kim, a North Korean national, had never once been provided with an interpreter during his two and a half years at the Kaluga Correctional Colony. The state of his health was thus unclear, nor was it clear what he wanted himself: to return to his country or move to a safe place.

I posted information about the case on Facebook, asking for a heads-up from Kaluga human rights activists. Kaluga attorney Elvira Davydova read my plea to help the North Korean and decided to help, working the case pro bono.

I signed a contract with Elvira Davydova, a young, vigorous attorney, to defend Kim’s interests for a purely nominal sum of money (I couldn’t afford to spend any more money on the North Korean out of my old-age pension), and the lawyer went to work.

The UNHCR assigned Kim a Korean interpreter.

The lawyer and I made a deal with the assistant director of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s Kaluga office that when the Korean was released, Kaluga prison officials would help Kim get in contact with the UNHCR interpreter.

Unfortunately, this did not happen, although this was to be expected from the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s Kaluga office.

At twelve noon, the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service’s Kaluga office handed Kim over to the Kaluga police and the Migration Authority.

I thought Kim would be transferred to the regional center and formally charged with violating Article 18.8 of the Russian Federal Code of Administrative Offenses. (“Violation by a foreign citizen or stateless person of the rules of entry into the Russian Federation or of residence in the Russian Federation.”)

From noon to three p.m., the attorney looked for her client at the Migration Authority’s building, which is way outside the city.

But Kim had been moved to an “alternative jurisdiction.” He was transported to another district, which has a prison for foreigners, a so-called temporary detention center for foreign citizens. The lawyer was unable to go there.

But the lawyer phoned the Dzerzhinsky District Court and found out the name of the federal judge. She asked to speak to him, but was turned down. Moreover, she was told that “Kim already [had] a representative.” Is a Migration Authority official acting as his representative?

The lawyer will make a request to the district court to find out whether a ruling to deport Kim has been issued, and whether Kim had an interpreter with him in court.

The lawyer talked with the guards who escorted Kim, but the Migration Authority officer refused to let Kim talk on the phone with the UNHCR interpreter.

Moreover, someone called the UNHCR and said that he (that someone) would now be handling all contacts with Kim. Apparently, our opponents from the security forces haven’t been dozing, either.

16465267_1265080213580436_242739289438289920_n
This is what the prison for foreigners in the Dzerzhinsky District looks like nowadays. It used to be a village school. Photo courtesy of Lyubov Moseyeva-Helier/7X7

Today, the lawyer filed complaints against the Migration Authority for preventing her from meeting with her client, although they knew Ms. Davydova was Kim’s attorney, and against the on-duty prosecutor.

Ms. Davydova also filed a request with the police to meet with Kim at the temporary detention center for foreign citizens on May 3, 2017.

In the future, we’ll have to go through the same business with the court bailiffs in Kaluga.

Today’s human rights marathon has identified several pressure points, showing that, when it comes to human rights, something is rotten in the state of Denmark known as Kaluga Region.

1. It is impossible to file a complaint in the chancellery at the Migration Authority, whose building is located in the distant outskirts of the regional center. They simply do not accept complaints. To file a complaint, migrants must travel to the Russian Federal Interior Ministry’s Kaluga Region office, which is ten kilometers away, in downtown Kaluga.

2. It is difficult to find anything in the Migration Authority’s building. There is no one to ask for information. Not all the doors have signs on them, and there are no listed working hours for the departments.

3. The lawyer had to wait a long time in the Russian Federal Interior Ministry’s Kaluga Region office for her complaint to be registered and to be issued a receipt.

4. In the Kaluga District Court, it is impossible for a lawyer to learn the name of the on-duty judge who handles administrative violation alleged to have been committed by foreigners.

5. A violation of Article 9, Part 6 of the Russian Advocate’s Professional Code of Ethics was committed in the temporary detention center for foreigner. (“Imposing one’s assistance on individuals and retaining them as clients through the use of personal connections with judicial and law enforcement officers, by promising a favorable resolution of a case, and through other underhanded methods.”)

40436_profileLyubov Moseyeva-Helier is a legal adviser for the Kaluga regional grassroots movement For Human Rights, an expert for the Russian grassroots movement For Human Rights, a lead expert for the project Russian Public Monitoring Commissions: A New Generation, and a voting member of Kaluga Polling Station Commission No. 1139.

Originally published at helier59.livejournal.com on April 28, 2017. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for the heads-up

Translation Exercise

Since none of what follows, which I’ve excerpted from RBC‘s Facebook newsfeed just seconds ago, makes any sense in Russian, I’m translating it by way of beefing up my “transsense” (Zaum) chops. You never know when they’ll come in handy. Truth be told, they come in handy way too often. TRR

_____________________________

В Совете Федерации планируют создать комиссию, которая займется мониторингом враждебной активности иностранных государств.

Таким образом Совет Федерации хочет «продемонстрировать не просто лояльность президенту, но и свою вписанность в патриотические тренды», говорит политолог.

 

_____________________________

RBC

16 mins

The Federation Council plans to form a commission to monitor the hostile actions of foreign states.

The Federation Council thus wants “to display not just its loyalty to the president but also its conformity with patriotic trends,” says a political scientist.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Federation Council Decides to Combat Hostile Actions

_____________________________

Translation and second photo by the Russian Reader

The Russian Economic Miracle of 2017

fullsizeoutput_602
“Pilling from 499 rubles. Ultrasound cleaning from 599 rubles.” Photo by TRR

More Than Five Million Russians Have Trouble Paying Back Loans
Takie Dela
May 30, 2017

Around five and half million Russians have trouble servicing their debts. Their debut burden is more than 60% of their income, reports Gazeta.ru, quoting a statement by Vladimir Shikin, deputy marketing director at the National Credit History Bureau.

According to experts, this figure is regarded as a critical indicator. Among the main reasons for arrears are the unreliability of borrowers and the lack of means to finance current debts.

Residents of the Kemerovo, Tyumen, and Novosibirsk Regions are the most indebted. According to the National Credit History Bureau, three million people cannot make payments on loans, which is 8% of all borrowers. Their current debt load exceeds half of their monthly incomes.

According to Shikin, the share of overdue loans remains at 16%, even as the number of new loans grows. The majority of Russian borrowers have several loans, and the average economically active Russian owes creditors 146,000 rubles [approx. 2,300 euros].

Meanwhile, research done by RANEPA shows that the debt burden of Russians is not critical. As Natalya Orlova, chief economist at Alfa Bank, stressed, the debt of Russians is estimated at 12% of GDP.

“In developed countries, debt is 60% to 80% of GDP, so the market has potential for growth,” emphasized Orlova. However, she argues that Russia issues a relatively small percentage of mortgages, whereas in developed countries, mortgages account for nearly 90% of all loans.

Experts hope that the debt burden of Russians will not rise greatly. After the 2014–2015 crisis, banks were more way about issuing loans, so the debut burden of Russians will fall. In the near future, banks will be even more cautious. In particular, the Central Bank has planned to consolidate the data of major of credit history bureaus in a single data base to combat indebtedness.

Earlier, the United Credit reported that half of Russian borrowers had been applying for new loans to pay off old loans. According to its figures, 45 million Russians with old loans had taken new loans in banks. Over half of them had done this to pay off old loans.

The analysis shows that 53% of borrowers had taken new loans in cash to partially or fully pay off already existing loans. 27% of the borrowers had spent more than half of the new loans on paying debts.

________________________

Almost 60% of Russians Admit They Have No Savings
Takie Dela
May 29, 2017

Around 59% of Russian families have no savings, reports Rambler News Service, citing a report from the polling and market research firm inFOM.

According to a survey commissioned by the Central Bank, the figure has remained stable [sic] the last three months. In December 2016, 64% of those surveyed had no savings.

Yet a quarter of Russians believe that now is a good time to save money, while 44% hold the opposite opinion. According to experts, the tendency to save has grown noticeably since the beginning of the year. In February, fewer than 17% of respondents answered the question positively.

The majority of respondents replied that spare cash should be saved or put away for a rainy day, while a third of Russians would spend the money on expensive, major purchases.

The poll showed that 40% of respondents prefer to keep their savings in a bank account, 26%, in case, and 20%, partly in a bank, and partly in cash.

Two thousand respondents, aged eighteen and older, from fifty-five regions of Russia were involved in the survey.

According to research by RANEPA, the share of Russians who save money dropped by a third in 2016, from 55% to 40%. Moreover, in March, 40% of Russians claimed they had only enough money for food.

________________________

VTsIOM: 67% of Russians Skimped on Groceries during the Past Year 
Takie Dela
May 30, 2017

During the past year, 67% of Russian skimped on groceries in one way or another; 27% of them in a substantial way. Pensioners and residents of big cities had to skimp most of all. These figures were reported by pollsters VTsIOM.

The survey dealt with Russians’ attitudes to government regulation of the food market. 82% of respondents were against the idea of limiting supermarket opening hours on weekdays and weekends. According to 68% of them, if the government decided to do this, it would cause a number of problems. It would be hard to buy groceries in the evenings, and the selection would be reduced. Nearly 40% believed that limiting competition would generate price rises in small shops and produce markets.

Only 15% of Russians favored limiting competition, mostly pensioners aged sixty and older. When replying about what they thought about regulating prices for basic foodstuffs as a way of supporting the poor, Russians were divided in their opinions. Exactly half of them said such restrictions were ineffective, while 32% supported a combination of government and market measures, while 14% believed the government should solve the problem.

The VTsIOM survey showed that Russians were concerned about the government’s restricting prices for basic products. 55% said it would lead to the closure of stores, while 28% said it would lead to shortages, price gouging, and disruption of supplies. However, a quarter of respondents believed that prices would subsequently drop, and life would improve.

Russians see the government’s key role in regulating the produce market in support for domestic producers and developing farming, as well as in quality control. However, according to Yulia Baskakova, head of social modeling and forecasting at VTsIOM, “While worrying with all their heart for domestic producers, supporting improved food quality, and supporting the development of farming, Russians are not willing to sacrifice their comfort and put up with a reduction of the range of goods to which they are accustomed and its becoming less available. The survey showed that 88% of Russians are not willing to put up with a drop in their quality of lives to reduce the price of essential foodstuffs.”

The poll was occasioned by a suggestion, made by Federation Council member Sergei Lisovsky, that regional authorities could decide how large store chains should operate. Lisovky also suggested prohibiting supermarkets from opening at nights and on Sundays, and permitting them to work on Saturdays only until four o’clock in the afternoon. Lisovsky has argued that such measures would support small business and promote small-scale trade.

Translation and photo by the Russian Reader. Faithful readers might wonder why I have cited Russian opinion polls at such length after making a big effort, over the past couple of years to show that this pollocracy, while real enough as a practice, does not tell us much or anything at all about what actual Russians thinking or are planning to do.  I have made an exception in this case, however, because I think the three news items, above, show, between the lines, as it were, what really afflicts the Russian economy, and how the feigned populism of the political/economic elite rears its head, quite often in fact, to suggest impracticable solutions to the knotty problems their own mammoth corruption and instinctive hatred of small business and independent individuals generates the dead end they claim to want to alleviate by, among other thing, commissioning one “public opinion poll” after another while stubbornly failing to notice that their enthusiastic terrorizing of Krasnodar farmers, independent truckers, and Moscow street vendors show they have no interest whatsoever in small business, much less reducing the prices of basic foodstuffs for pensioners. The only thing that interests them is getting richer and making their power untouchable. TRR